First off, I would like to say I am extremely happy the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots last night. My father is a Giants fan and I grew up watching just as much Rodney Hampton and Otis Anderson run rampant as I watched Miami's carousel of RBs do a whole lot of nothing. It's nice to see not only Miami's rival fall, but to see my father and grandfather so happy with the G-Men's victory. Now if only the Dolphins can bring us that same feeling.
This is my fifth version of the mock draft and there have been a few changes. The draft order finally has the order set with the exception of four spots being decided by a coin toss. The spots that will depend on a coin toss will be marked by an *. As a note, I will not include trade scenarios in the mock drafts. I know there certainly could be moves made and I'm sure there will be at least one trade in the NFL Draft in April, but I will not include them here. I am simply giving a mock draft based on the current order.
1) Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck, QB: It is looking almost certain the Colts will draft Luck and it looks like Peyton Manning and the Colts are on track to part ways. Taking Luck is the best thing for the franchise, even if it does mean that it'll cause you to lose arguably the best player in team history and one of the best QBs to ever play in the NFL.
2) St. Louis Rams - Justin Blackmon, WR: I have been thinking Matt Kalil would be the most likely candidate until recently. I am thinking the Rams just may consider getting a LT with their second round pick. When it comes to taking Blackmon, the top WR, and a good, but not great LT in the second, I think the Rams will find that option preferable. This could go back to Kalil if the Rams address their WR needs in free agency. Another option is the Rams could just trade back if one of the teams interested in Robert Griffin III wishes to trade up.
3) Minnesota Vikings - Matt Kalil, OT: Morris Claiborne is also a consideration and Blackmon would go here if available. The Vikings may lean more towards Kalil than Claiborne because they need to protect Christian Ponder. This too is another position both the Dolphins and Redskins may look to trade for to get Griffin.
4) Cleveland Browns - Robert Griffin III, QB: Trent Richardson and, if available, Blackmon are both options here as well. I think the Browns selecting Griffin are about 50%, but the other half is divided by the other two players. Majority wins in this one. While the Browns likely still have faith in Colt McCoy, Griffin may just be too much to pass up.
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Morris Claiborne, CB: I've bounced back and forth with Claiborne and Trent Richardson at this position, but I will go back to Claiborne because I believe he's at a position that carries more value. Ronde Barber will be a free agent and Aqib Talib is facing legal problems, making CB a hole the Bucs must address.
Previous pick: Trent Richardson, RB
6) Washington Redskins - Riley Reiff, OT: Griffin would likely be the preferred choice, but the Redskins have the Browns in front of them and don't have the ammunition like the Browns do if both teams wish to enter a bidding war for the Baylor QB. Blackmon and Claiborne would be their next targets, but both of them fall off the board. Instead, the Redskins bite the bullet in this scenario as they can't land any of their preferred targets. Reiff is still a nice consolation prize as he and Jammal Brown will help settle Washington's OT positions for a long while.
Previous pick: Morris Claiborne, CB
7) Jacksonville Jaguars - Quinton Coples, DE: Aaron Kampman is getting up there in age and may not be back. Matt Roth just wasn't the answer for Jacksonville. Coples would do very well to help solidify their defensive line and will give Jacksonville a good pass rushing threat for the next several years in a division that has Matt Schaub, Jake Locker, and probably Andrew Luck.
*8) Miami Dolphins - Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB: The Dolphins would love to get Griffin and with a 4-3 defense, they'd also love to get Coples. Unfortunately, neither are available. Ingram is the next best option at DE to play opposite ofCameron Wake. Another option for Miami may be for them to try and move down toward the middle of the round and draft Ryan Tannehill, but with Griffin in Cleveland, they may be able to land Tannehill in the second, even if they have to trade up a few spots. Mark Barron would be a slight reach here, but could land with Miami to fill their need for a play-making Safety. Personally, I would absolutely love to have Blackmon at this spot as well. Having him and Marshall as a duo would help our starting QB, no matter who that happens to be.
*9) Carolina Panthers - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB: They may go with someone like Jonathan Martin as well, but they need help badly on the defensive side of the ball. Carolina allowed 8.4 YPA against the pass and Kirkpatrick could be a starter from day 1. He'd help fix their defense while their offense grows.
10) Buffalo Bills - Andre Branch, DE: Upshaw is still a possibility in the eyes of some, but I think Buffalo goes for a more traditional 4-3 DE with Branch. It's possible the Bills can also target Jonathan Martin here, but with a new shift in defensive schemes, the Bills need to find someone to fill their 4-3 DE need.
Previous pick: Courtney Upshaw, OLB
*11) Kansas City Chiefs - Luke Kuechly, ILB: Their defense has underperformed and Kuechly will help solidify the LBs. They will look to resign CB Brandon Flowers and hope that he andBrandon Carr will rebound from underwhelming years. Eric Berry returning will also help their secondary.
*12) Seattle Seahawks - Trent Richardson, RB: I would have to agree with Todd McShay of ESPN here if Richardson makes it this far. If the Seahawks were interested in Tannehill, they could likely try to trade down and if Richardson was available, I would have to think the Cincinnati Bengals and maybe even the New York Jets could be an option as a trading partner. Even if Seattle were to resign Marshawn Lynch, Richardson is just too good a prospect for Seattle to pass over.
Previous Pick: Riley Reiff, OT
13) Arizona Cardinals - Jonathan Martin, OT: The Cardinals will be happy to take one of the top three OTs or David DeCastro as they need help all over the offensive line. They could look Vontaze Burfict or Courtney Upshaw with this pick too if they're available.
14) Dallas Cowboys - Janoris Jenkins, CB: With a strong outing at the Senior Bowl, Jenkins overtakes Dennard in the draft. Jenkins could've been the #1 CB in the draft had he not had issues with the Gators. With Terrence Newman expected be out of Dallas this offseason, they will need all the help Dennard can provide.
Previous pick: Alfonzo Dennard, CB
15) Philadelphia Eagles - Michael Brockers, DT: The weak link for the Eagles has been their LBs and FS, but they're not ready to give up on Nate Allen and the selection of Brockers could help Casey Matthews at MLB. Brockers and Cullen Jenkins would give the Eagles a very nice tandem at DT and with Jason Babin and Trent Cole at DE, Philly would have a defensive line that could end up being just as good as the defensive front four of the New York Giants. Michael Floyd could be an option here if they've grown tired of DeSean Jackson.
Previous pick: Vontaze Burfict, ILB
16) New York Jets - Mark Barron, FS/SS: Courtney Upshaw could also be an option if available. The Jets have holes at both safety positions and could use a man like Barron to help solidify their weaknesses covering TEs. Barron isn't very good in man coverage and may be a bit stiff in the hips, but he's great in zone coverage with his ability to read the QB. His closing speed will be able to make up for many of his mistakes when he's slow to turn and run with a receiver. He's aggressive in run support, but will overrun on the play at times.
17) Cincinnati Bengals - Alfonzo Dennard, CB: He'd be a top 10 pick if he wasn't in trouble with the Gators. The Bengals have Leon Hall, but Nate Clements is 32 and has been inconsistent. Jenkins and Hall could quickly become one of the better CB duos in the NFL.
Previous pick: Janoris Jenkins, CB
18) San Diego Chargers - Courtney Upshaw, OLB: The Chargers could also use David DeCastro, but the prospect of Courtney Upshaw is just too much for them to pass up. The Chargers need a lot of help at OLB as Larry English just hasn't developed as San Diego has hoped.
Previous pick: David DeCastro, OG
19) Chicago Bears - David DeCastro, OG: The Bears could really use someone like Michael Floyd at WR, but DeCastro is considered by some the best OL in the draft. The Bears address the bigger need and select DeCastro at this slot.
Previous pick: Michael Floyd, WR
20) Tennessee Titans - Nick Perry, DE: Karl Klug has been the top pass rusher for the Titans with 7 and they need to get some help to get to the passer. Parry is a natural pass rusher that could help the Titans get after the QB. With a bunch of young QB prospects in the AFC South, the Titans will need someone to rattle their cage. CB could be a hole if they don't resign Cortland Finnegan, but I already project the top CBs to be gone.
Previous pick: Andre Branch, DE
21) Cincinnati Bengals - Lamar Miller, RB: Cedric Benson hasn't been very effective despite his rushing yards and he's a free agent. Miller is a home run threat and is quick to hit the holes. Miller is also a tough runner to bring down. It's possible Cincy could go with a Guard or Center like Cordy Glenn or Peter Konz, but there is a thin market for RBs in free agency and the Bengals need an upgrade in the backfield more than they do on the line.
22) Cleveland Browns (via Falcons) - Michael Floyd, WR: The Browns opt to give Colt McCoy and Griffin another weapon here. They could make a run at Ryan Tannehill here if they pass on Griffin. Floyd has some height to him and a bit of speed. With Greg Little joining Floyd on the outside, the Browns can finally focus on rebuilding their receiving threats since they dumped the likes of Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards.
Previous pick: Alshon Jeffery
23) Detroit Lions - Cordy Glenn, OG: The Lions, like many teams, need help on their offensive line and could also go with Peter Konz to place Dominic Raiola at center, but I think they'll try to milk another season out of their aging center while they address OG. Zach Brown could also be an option for the Lions if they wish to address LB.
Previous pick: Zebrie Sanders.
24) Pittsburgh Steelers - Vontaze Burfict, ILB: Dontari Poe could be another option if they look for a future NT, but the Steelers also need to inject some youth at ILB. Hightower has been a great leader on the Alabama defense and is another one of the great Alabama LBs. Also, Paul Soliai could be a free agent target to replace Casey Hampton if they overlook Poe.
Previous pick: Dont'a Hightower, ILB
25) Denver Broncos - Devon Still, DT: Denver already has solid players on the outside for the future with Elvis Dumervil,Robert Ayers, and Von Miller. Still could bring a solid presence in the middle to team with Broderick Bunkley to help solidify the middle of the field and strengthen Denver's run defense. Kendall Wright could be an option, but I think Denver likes Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.
26) Houston Texans - Alshon Jeffery, WR: They could also go for Dontari Poe here, but they should be satisfied with where their defense is at. Jeffery still has a lot of improvement he needs to do, but he has the potential to give the Texans a solid compliment to Andre Johnson.
Previous pick: Kendall Wright, WR
27) New England Patriots (via Saints) - Kendall Wright, WR: The Patriots could address the defensive line here if they wish, but they also need a deep threat at WR. Wright would be the perfect solution to help bring a downfield threat and take attention away from the middle of the field.
Previous pick: Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB
28) Green Bay Packers - Whitney Mercilus, DE: Mercilus is a bit of a risky player in my mind, but the prospect of teaming him up with Clay Matthews and trying to terrorize QBs would be very enticing for the Packers.
Previous pick: Jared Crick, DE
29) Baltimore Ravens - Peter Konz, C: The Ravens need a center to take over for the aging Matt Birk. Konz, the best center in the class, would give the Ravens one of the best interior lines in the NFL if the Ravens can resign Ben Grubbs.
30) San Francisco 49ers - Mohamed Sanu, WR: Braylon Edwards didn't performed as good as San Francisco hoped and is now gone. The 49ers could test the free agent market, but if unable to land a WR, Sanu would be a good fit. He doesn't have elite speed, but he's fast enough to be a vertical threat. He has very good hands, runs good routes, and is physical enough to get off the line.
31) New England Patriots - Fletcher Cox, DE/DT: Cox can thrive as a 4-3 DT or a 3-4 DE. Cox has athleticism and superb strength. He has pass rushing moves, but he mostly depended on his bull rush while at Georgia. He is at a good weight for either position, but he's capable of adding more weight at the pro level. Adding him to play next to Mercilus would be a good way for New England to start patching up a poor defense, especially one that generates little pass rush.
32) New York Giants - Zebrie Sanders: The Giants offensive line has been going through transition. Look the once dominant offensive line to try and speed up their recovery by drafting Sanders. They'd love to have Glenn available and may look for Dwayne Allen at TE, but they probably feel they have enough weapons.
Previous pick: Cordy Glenn